Six Nations: England chief was right to boot me out, says Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson admits Grand Slam-chasing England have been a better side since he was dropped 12 months ago.
Wilkinson, England's World Cup-winning fly-half, was axed for only the third time in his career after last year's 15-15 bore draw with Scotland at Murrayfield.
England tackle the Scots again on Sunday with Toby Flood, Wilkinson's former apprentice from their days at Newcastle, now firmly installed in the number 10 jersey.
Wilkinson concedes red rose manager Martin Johnson was right to make the change when he did because England have hardly looked back since.
“You can want all the things in the world but there is no fun in it, no enjoyment if you don't deserve it or earn it,” said Wilkinson (pictured).
“I believe hugely in fighting for what you want to achieve but there are also times when that fighting becomes almost stupid unless you take some time to listen to the signs around you.
“At that time I was starting to go in a direction I didn't want to go and one I wasn't enjoying. The signs around me were telling me I needed a break from what I was doing.
“I needed to reassess, I needed to look at things from another angle. After periods of injury it has been a case for me of just getting back in there with England.
“I appreciate the opportunity and I would never turn it down — but I was always questioning 'have I earned this?'
“It was unfair for me to play the whole of that Six Nations without Floody, the way he was going, at least finishing it off and showing what he can do. He did that and now he is where he is.”
Last year, with Wilkinson at fly-half, England were one-dimensional and predictable.
In contrast, Flood is conducting a side packed with strike runners like Ben Foden and Chris Ashton and harbouring a new-found sense of attacking ambition.
Over the last 12 months England have risen to fourth in the world and won Tests in Australia and Cardiff for the first time since 2003.
“The best evidence you can have that it was the right decision is looking at it results-wise and flow-wise,” Wilkinson explained.
“The relationship Floody has created with the other — the way they work together and the way they link — wasn't quite there when I was playing.”
Meanwhile, Joe Ansbro will return to the Scotland starting line-up against numerous familiar foes.
The Northampton back, who is set to win his fifth cap as one of four changes to the Scotland team named yesterday, is poised to come across fellow Saints Chris Ashton and Ben Foden in the England back line, while Courtney Lawes, Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood could play in the hosts' pack.
Ansbro said: “Everyone's excited about the game and seeing what goes on. A few of the lads are talking to me, not too many. There's been a little bit of a blackout.”
Scotland: C Paterson (Edinburgh); S Danielli (Ulster), J Ansbro (Northampton), S Lamont (Scarlets) M Evans (Glasgow Warriors); R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), R Lawson (Gloucester); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), M Low (Glasgow Warriors), R Gray (Glasgow Warriors), A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors, captain), N Hines (Leinster), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), K Brown (Saracens).
Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), G Cross (Edinburgh), R Vernon (Glasgow Warriors), A Strokosch (Gloucester), M Blair (Edinburgh), D Parks (Cardiff Blues), N De Luca (Edinburgh).